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Collin College unveils new Spring Creek Campus library
Kelsey Kruzich / Staff photo -- This reading room, situated under a 60-foot dome, serves as the centerpiece of the Collin College's Spring Creek Campus' new library. The building includes 16 new classrooms, 28 individual student study rooms and dozens of faculty offices.
Nearly eight years ago, Collin College set out to redefine its libraries as grand, visually striking campus centerpieces.
First came the 2005 opening of the 50,000-square-foot Preston Ridge Campus library in Frisco. Then came the 2009 completion of the library at the Central Park Campus in McKinney.
Now, the Spring Creek Campus in Plano is getting a similar facelift, with an 88,000-square-foot, $16.4 million building -- the largest expansion in the campus' 24-year history.
Like the McKinney library, the new building, which opened last week, combines traditional library trappings -- books, computers and common areas -- with classrooms, faculty offices and open collaboration spaces.
The building, modeled after Thomas Jefferson's design for the University of Virginia, is capped by a 60-foot-tall dome, under which lies the large first-floor reading room.
The second floor boasts 28 individual student study rooms, 16 classrooms, dozens of offices for professors, and a mock trial courtroom complete with a judge's bench and witness box.
Dr. Cary Israel, president of Collin College, said the district is trying to make a statement with its libraries and recognize their value as the "intellectual hub" of the campuses.
"What we're trying to say is, our libraries really epitomize our colleges," he said. "It's a focal point. It's a blizzard of learning."
Israel said the library is specifically designed to accommodate interdisciplinary courses, juxtaposing resources such as classrooms, offices and technology in an effort to emphasize on-the-fly collaboration.
"We know that learning takes place not just virtually and not just in that square classroom, but it takes place in the hallways and in offices and in study groups," he said.
The additional classrooms are timely for the campus: its 7,000-student capacity was well exceeded by last semester's enrollment of 13,000 students.
The library's former space is currently under construction to add more classrooms, a veteran's resource office, computer labs, conference rooms, and tutoring and counseling areas.
The building was also designed with an eye to the future, Israel said. As books transition to the digital realm, the first floor will be able to accommodate more lounge and collaboration areas in place of bookshelves.
"We're looking to the future on what this building could easily be adapted to if we don't have hard copy books any longer," he said. "This building will never be under-utilized, because you've got faculty, you've got classrooms, you've got [the] teaching learning center, and students still want face-to-face [contacts], or everyone would be taking all online classes."
Student Victoria Johnson, who works at the library, said she likes the wide-open approach of the building's design and expressed an affinity for the opulence of the main reading area.
"You come in and it's just this 'wow' feeling," she said.
More than 2,000 students are enrolled in classes in the new library this semester, college officials said.
"The word 'library' is real powerful, and it will still be powerful language whether we have digitized books or not," Israel said. "Everyone knows where the library is at every major campus, and we want this to be a focal point, and this is why the architecture is stunning."
The Spring Creek Campus library is open from 7:45 a.m. to 9:45 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 7:45 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday. For information, call 972-881-5860 or visit collin.edu.
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